Green Remodeling Comes of Age

Last week in Denver, several dozen remodelers who attended the Green Building Conference gathered to hear two remodelers share their efforts to remodel green.

April 10, 2000

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Last week in Denver, several dozen remodelers who attended the Green Building Conference gathered to hear two remodelers share their efforts to remodel green. They were not disappointed.

Judging by the response during the question-and-answer session, and afterward huddled around the speaker’s table, green remodeling is more that another marketing angle to play up with the consumer. Tom Kelly, CR, president of Neil Kelly Designers/Remodelers in Portland, Ore., recounted how his company has been doing job-site recycling and the like for many years. But it wasn’t until he encountered The Natural Step that Kelly found the inspiration and direction to change the corporate culture.


Shapiro's web guide for Green Remodeling, the website of Environmental Building News, the Green Design Network, promotes sustainable design and construction, the Wisconsin Green Building Alliance, the consultants who developed Boulder, Colorado’s Green Points Remodeling Program, by Howard Associates, a supplier of environmentally sound building products, the U.S. Green Building Council, from Built Green Colorado, the City of Austin, Texas’ green building site.

"There’s no question in my mind that [the way we handle the environment] will be our generation’s legacy to our children and their children," Kelly said.

Kelly’s strategy for changing the culture was five-fold. First, the company had done it a number of times before, so he knew the culture could be changed. After that, it was a matter of building the commitment to change from the top down, so everyone in the company recognized top management’s desire to make the shift.

The time commitment has to be recognized, too. "You don’t just change an organization overnight," Kelly says. "It’s a move from point A to point Z." For some of the past culture changes Kelly had to go through, five years were needed. Expect and be prepared to take the time, he says. Then, patience and planning will round out the process.

The other speaker last week was Scot Shapiro, CGR, of Creative Construction in Albuquerque, N.M. Shapiro did the first Green Remodeling Project in that city. The client’s response, Shapiro said, was "If it’s not going to cost me any more money, and there won’t be any tree-huggers, fine."

"The client didn’t really care about it," Shapiro said. He spent the rest of his presentation highlighting the various things his company does as a matter of course to be environmentally conscious:





  • Design taking energy efficiency into account, looking at long-term benefits and payback rather than short-term costs.





  • Solar orientation and site selection to moderate climate effects.





  • Job site recycling.





  • Reuse or salvage materials such plumbing fixtures, cabinets and framing.





  • Use low-impact materials such as engineered lumber.





  • Properly install and seal insulation.





  • Look for recycled content in the products you specify.

    Would you like to purchase these books?

    Green Building Resource Guide

    by John Hermanson

    Building Green in a Black and White World

    by David Robert Johnston

    Environmental Building News Product Catalog

    Sustainable Building Technical Manual

    Builder’s Guide for Hot-Dry and Mixed-Dry Climates

    Rod Sutton is the Editor-in-Chief for Professional Remodler. Please email him with any comments or questions regarding his column.

    Also see:

    Green Cabinets Win for Remodeler

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